New York City Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is running against Republican Joseph Lhota, who headed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and served as a top aide to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Excerpted from BLOOMBERG: Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee for New York mayor, won the backing of President Barack Obama, who praised the candidate’s pledge to close the growing gap between rich and poor in the most populous U.S. city.
De Blasio, 52, is running against Republican Joseph Lhota, 58, who headed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and served as a top aide to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. “Progressive change is the centerpiece of Bill de Blasio’s vision for New York City,” Obama, a Democrat, said today in a statement distributed by de Blasio’s campaign. “Whether it’s ensuring pre-kindergarten is available for every 4-year-old, expanding after-school programs for every middle-school student who wants and needs them, making affordable housing available for more New York families and preserving community hospitals, Bill’s agenda for New York is marked by bold, courageous ideas that address the great challenges of our time.”
Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, the former U.S. secretary of state, also have backed de Blasio.
“I am deeply honored by President Obama’s endorsement,” said de Blasio, who was elected public advocate, a city watchdog post, in 2009. “On health care, tax fairness or the economy, the president is no stranger to addressing big problems with big ideas and big solutions. I will emulate the example he has set, and if elected I stand eager to work with him on an urban agenda that grows prosperity for all.”
Obama has weighed in on New York City politics before. Past endorsements include William Thompson, the Democratic mayoral nominee against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in 2009; and incumbents Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke in their Democratic primaries for the House of Representatives last year.
Patrick Gaspard, whom Obama nominated to become the U.S. ambassador to South Africa in June, is the link between Obama and de Blasio, said George Arzt, a Democratic consultant not involved in the race. Gaspard has served as the executive director of the Democratic National Committee and been an adviser to de Blasio and his campaign, Arzt said. Gaspard also served as an acting political director for the Service Employees International Union.
The 12-year tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, concludes at end of December. The election is Nov. 5.